Share the Beach with Our Nesting Neighbors
[caption id="attachment_860" align="alignright" width="300"] Sea turtles nest in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach from May to October.[/caption]If you're lucky, you may spot a few surprise visitors on the beach this summer. We're not talking about
Aunt Lola from Louisiana or Uncle Ben from Birmingham, either. We're talking about our other annual visitors, the endangered sea turtles. Each year, from May to October, these tiny creatures become our neighbors as they hatch onto Alabama's white-sand beaches, a nesting ground for several different species.
Each nest can contain up to 100 eggs and will hatch within 55 to 75 days to make the perilous journey from the sand to the water. It is estimated nearly 30,000 hatchlings safely entered the waters off of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach between 2003 to 2011. Sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, making it unlawful to disturb nesting sea turtles, hatchlings and their nests. However, if you're near a nest as our small friends begin to erupt from the sand, it's a fun sight to see from a distance! But, please remember to respect their space.
Additional tips to being sea turtle friendly include:
• Sea turtles look for moonlight to guide them to the water, so turn off patio lights and shield interior lights from shining on the beach at night.
• Avoid using flashlights on the beach at night between May and October.
• Do not disturb nests.
• Leave sea turtle tracks undisturbed.
• Remove beach toys, chairs, tents and trash from the beach each night.
Lastly, you can even volunteer to Share the Beach, a volunteer program organized to protect the nesting sea turtle and their habitat.